Car, Trouble

http://blog.allstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/iStock-Road-Rage1-680x416.jpgI believe that God sends tests our way to grow us.  Last week I flunked a test badly, but in my defense it was a really hard one that played to all of my weak spots.

First, the situation.  Amy came home from work one night and informed me one of the tail lights in our car had stopped working, and the dashboard wasn't lighting up.  Assuming an electrical problem, I took the car to the mechanic on the way to work and picked it up on the way home.  A minor hiccup of an errand, and an annoyance to have to shell out some bucks I wasn't planning on having to spend, but in the grand scheme of things no big deal: the mechanic is on the way to work and hardly a deviation from my usual commute.

Except that when I picked up the car at the end of the work day, the mechanic told me he wasn't able to fix the problem and that I'd have to take the car to the dealer.  I told him very sharply that I would've appreciated knowing this ahead of time, so I could've made arrangements, and he replied that he thought someone from his shop had called me.  So that was a waste of a visit, I had to pay for the diagnostics, and the problem still wasn't fixed.  Even worse, I'd have to try this all over again the next day, except at the dealer instead of the local mechanic.

So, the dealer.  Yeah, they're out in the suburbs.  So dropping the car off on the way into work was a major detour.  Plus I had to drive into the teeth of rush hour.  Luckily, there's a Regional Rail station near the dealer, so getting back to the office from there wasn't too hard.  Still, it was a two-hour errand in the morning, with another two hours in the afternoon to pick up the car, for a grand total of four hours I didn't really have, given all I had to do that day at work.  I alternated between seething and despairing.

It gets better.  When I called in the afternoon to get a status on the car, I was told they hadn't even started checking it!  They weren't sure when they would be able to see what the problem was, and they certainly wouldn't yet know if any parts needed to be ordered.  I had a quick touch-base with Amy to make sure she was OK taking the subway to work instead of driving, even though she works in a really bad part of North Philly, and then told the mechanic to go ahead and hang onto the car overnight.

I braced myself for yet another two-hour excursion to pick up the car, followed by another four hours the week after to bring it back after the part had arrived and then to pick it up again.  I got short of breath thinking about how I would possibly fit that into a work week that was already starting to fill up, wondering if Amy would be OK walking to and from work, and just generally in a tizzy now that my carefully manicured schedule was shot to shreds.

Thankfully, mercifully, the dealer called later the next day to say they had the part in stock and the car was good to go.  But there was one last harrowing experience, which was driving the car home in rush hour and just barely making it back to the kids' after-school program before I would be fined for being late.  I think I must've yelled every expletive in the book as I crawled through traffic on a Friday evening, and I'm pretty sure I scared every little old lady and parent pushing a stroller as I feverishly sped the last few blocks to my kids. 

In short, this extended three-day experience hit all of my hot buttons.  Having to make multiple car trips, check.  Getting trapped in rush hour traffic multiple times, check.  Unexpected errands that take up uncomfortably long periods of time and have no defined end point, check.  People failing to communicate with me where if they did I could have adjusted my plans, check.  Thinking a task was done only to find out it was still very much undone, check.  Falling behind, running late, not knowing if it was going to be humanly possible to fit everything in in the time allotted, check and mate. 

Like I said, I failed with flying colors.  To use a baseball analogy, I thought I was ready for the bigs, and God put me up against 1999 Pedro Martinez, against whom I proceeded to go oh-fer-4 with 4 K's, flailing badly against the fastball AND the curveball AND the change-up AND the slider.  It was ugly but it was informative.  I am still a work in progress.
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